Follow Tunnel Springs Road to the Agua Sarca trailhead to begin your hike: if the tiny dirt lot is full, park 0.1 mile down the road at the Tunnel Springs trailhead. Pick up the Agua Sarca Trail, which begins by following an old jeep road, to dip into a canyon flanked by pine-peppered slopes. At mile 0.6, you’ll begin a 2.3-mile climb from the canyon floor to the route’s high point (9,056 feet) at the junction with North Crest Trail. The high desert panoramas become increasingly more revealing as you push upward through a drainage dotted with pinon trees and scrubby, low-lying vegetation. Just before the North Crest Junction, Albuquerque’s sweeping sprawl comes into view to the southwest.
From the junction, traverse the North Sandia Rim while heading east on the North Crest Trail. As you wind slowly downhill, the trail breaks into occasional down-valley views of Agua Sarca Canyon and panoramas of the lower countryside to the east. Near mile 4.4, the trail skirts a high cliff face offering an expansive vista of the rim you just traversed, with the North Crest Trail junction clearly visible to the southwest. After cutting back sharply to the east, the North Crest Trail connects to the Ojo Del Orno Trail at mile 6. From here, it’s a quick, one-mile descent back to your car at the Tunnel Springs or Agua Sarca trailhead.
-Mapped by Charlie Hart